Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
Book Reviews

Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond Review

Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond Book Cover

A mysterious lab. A sinister scientist. A secret history. If you think you know the truth behind Eleven’s mother, prepare to have your mind turned Upside Down in this thrilling prequel to the hit show Stranger Things.

It’s the summer of 1969, and the shock of conflict reverberates through the youth of America, both at home and abroad. As a student at a quiet college campus in the heartland of Indiana, Terry Ives couldn’t be further from the front lines of Vietnam or the incendiary protests in Washington.

But the world is changing, and Terry isn’t content to watch from the sidelines. When word gets around about an important government experiment in the small town of Hawkins, she signs on as a test subject for the project, codenamed MKUltra. Unmarked vans, a remote lab deep in the woods, mind-altering substances administered by tightlipped researchers . . . and a mystery the young and restless Terry is determined to uncover.

But behind the walls of Hawkins National Laboratory—and the piercing gaze of its director, Dr. Martin Brenner—lurks a conspiracy greater than she could have ever imagined. To face it, she’ll need the help of her fellow test subjects, including one so mysterious the world doesn’t know she exists—a young girl with unexplainable, superhuman powers and a number instead of a name: 008.

Amid the rising tensions of the new decade, Terry Ives and Martin Brenner have begun a different kind of war—one where the human mind is the battlefield.

Amazon | Better World Books | Cornerstone Digital


Emily’s Review

“What a beautiful little piece of evil.”

Suspicious Minds is a prequel to the Stranger Things show, and the story focuses on Eleven’s mom, Terry Ives. It’s set in the late ’60s / early ’70s in Indiana, and whether this is a Stranger Things book or not, I found it to be an easy story to get invested in. Terry and her friends are likeable characters, and the story is occurring amidst the Vietnam War and everything else that was going on – yet with a Stranger Things spin that makes it even more fun. 

I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to feel about this book, but Gwenda Bond did such a fantastic job, and I would definitely read more in this series from her. This book stands on its own well enough apart from Stranger Things, but it’s also an excellent companion piece for the series. It doesn’t add any serious details that we didn’t already know; it just dives into the MK Ultra backstory and shows the path leading to Eleven. It ties in the series so well without it feeling contrived. Dr Brenner is a disturbing character, and the Hawkins lab is a horrifying place. 

It’s always an interesting experience to read a book when you already know how it ends. Terry has so much life and hope in the book, but we know what happens in the end from the show. It creates a very ominous environment, and I felt dread throughout so much of the book since I knew where it was heading.

I think this book can work for both fans of Stranger Things and people who are new to the series. It’s so entertaining, and I feel like it has a great balance of new story and series tie-in. Thank you so much to Random House for sending me a copy of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds to review. I was very impressed with this introduction to the novel series, and I can’t wait to read more!


About Gwenda Bond

Author Photo Gwenda Bond

I write books. My work includes the Lois Lane series (Fallout, Double Down, and Triple Threat), which brings the iconic comic book character front and center in her own YA novels, and the Cirque American series (Girl on a Wire, graphic novel Girl Over Paris, and Girl in the Shadows), about daredevil heroines who discover magic and mystery lurking under the big top. I also co-write the the Supernormal Sleuthing Service with my husband author Christopher Rowe. I created Dead Air, a serialized mystery and scripted podcast written with Carrie Ryan and Rachel Caine. Up next? Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds, a prequel to the hit series. I co-host the Cult Faves podcast about the strange world of cults and extreme belief.

I have also written for Publishers WeeklyLocus, and the Los Angeles Times, and the ReMade serial. I guest-edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online (full of excellent stories, which you should go read), and I have been a guest on NPR’s Weekend Edition. I have an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in writing for children and young adults. But readers of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet may know me best as everyone’s Dear Aunt Gwenda.

I live in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with Christopher and our monsters, er, pets: Stella the Cat, HRH; Puck the Dog, INC; Izzy the Dog-Girl, VIP; and Sally the Other-Dog-Girl, ESQ. (Get to know them over on Instagram.)

You can read much of my short and nonfiction work online for free or buy some essays and advice columns in print, if you’d rather. I love hearing from readers, so please visit the contact page. If you’d like to book me for a speaking engagement or school visit, that’s great too. You can also find me on twitter as @gwenda or sign up for my author newsletter. Members of the media, bloggers, or others who need a third-person bio or images, can find them on the press kit page for both me and me and Christopher.

I’m represented by Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

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